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Former Red Sox player and a vital piece to the 2004 World Series run, Dave Roberts publicized his diagnosis of Hodgkins’ Lymphoma disease on Monday.
The 37-year-old Roberts, who is now an assistant coach on the San Diego Padres, was diagnosed in mid-March, but wanted to keep the situation private between his family and his team.
“Going forward I definitely hope I can keep this private with my family,” Roberts said.
Roberts said he began feeling soreness in his neck in early March by spring training, and slowly watched the soreness grow into an expanding lump.
A true professional though, Roberts made a point of continuing to show up at the ballpark everyday and tried not to let the disease get the best of him.
“I wanted to continue with spring training and help this organization any way I could,” he said. “Just going to the ballpark and working with players, or going to a minor league affiliate and seeing the guys stimulates me and keeps me going and keeps me positive.”
Roberts still has to wisely manage his workload, though. He recently was away from the ballpark for the team’s four-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
“I’m just trying to make sure I don’t do too much in certain periods,” he said. “I definitely have been in tune with the happenings of the ballclub.”
Roberts played 10 seasons in the majors for Cleveland, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston, San Diego and San Francisco. The former outfielder retired after 2008 and worked in television last year for the Red Sox.
Roberts will forever be remembered for his stolen base against Mariano Rivera in the 2004 ALCS. With Boston three outs from a sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees, Roberts pinch-ran for Kevin Millar, who led the inning off with a walk. Roberts then took second and later scored on Bill Mueller’s single, tying the game at 4-4. The Red Sox eventually won the game 6-4 in 12 innings and the victory catipulted them to become the first team in baseball history to come back from a best-of-7, 3-0 deficit. Riding the momentum from that ALCS, the Red Sox went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series for their first championship since 1918.
Roberts did not play in that World Series, but will always be beloved in Boston because of that one play.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who managed Roberts in 2004, chose fitting and touching words when asked to describe his former player’s situation.
“I expect Dave can probably outrun anything,” Francona said. “I know we’ve got a lot of people pulling for him here. He probably knows that.”